New health project aims to keep the fishermen of King’s Lynn, Wells and Cromer ship-shape

A new project launched today hopes to help fishermen lead a healthier lifestyle.

NHS Norfolk is working with the Fishermen's Mission on the pilot project, called Fishwell.

Free health checks and cardiovascular screenings were on offer at the Fisher Fleet today and nurses will also be on hand tomorrow.

Further events are planned outside the RNLI Henry Blogg museum on Cromer seafront on April 6 and 7, and at Wells at a date to be fixed.

Fishermen can also ring a number to book a health check with the NHS Norfolk.

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Justine Hottinger, health improvement specialist at NHS Norfolk, said the project was part of a preventative health programme.

She said: 'It's difficult to reach certain groups of men who tend to access health services late, so we are bringing the service to them.

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'Fishing is one of the most hazardous peacetime occupations in the world. Fishermen do a physically demanding job, often working long hours in harsh conditions with unpredictable catches and income security.

'These factors combine to make it difficult for fishermen to keep themselves healthy and well and access health services.

'We are offering advice on healthy eating and help in giving up smoking and drinking too much, and encouraging fishermen to get more exercise.

'Working long and unpredictable hours, it can be difficult to eat well, and you tend to just grab something to eat whenever you can.

'Fishermen are also under a lot of strain and stress with financial concerns, like everyone else in society, and are especially worried about rising fuel prices.'

To mark the launch of Fishwell, staff from Clock Pharmacy in King's Lynn offered free health checks to fishermen at Cross Bank Road, Lynn Docks, on Monday and Tuesday, and NHS Norfolk health was also on hand to offer one-to-on support on health issues.

The Port Missioner for the Fishermen's Mission, Tim Jenkins was available to offer advice and support for fishermen and their families.

He said: 'There are a number of reasons why fishing is dangerous. Working on the sea is dangerous in itself, as it can be very unpredictable.

'You are also working with mechanical stuff that can go wrong, and working very long hours. The latest figures, from 2008/9, show that 14 fishermen died in the country.'

Raymond Mayes, 60, from South Wootton, has been a fisherman for 30 years.

He welcomed the new service and said: 'It's good to know that you can get a health check.

'You have to be alert all the time as a fisherman. The sea is unpredictable and we work long hours. But what's killing us at the moment is the price of fuel for our boats. The price of shrimps is also a bit up and down.'

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